Pete's Perspective: Episode 2
Welcome to the second installment of my Perspective column. I wanted to take a moment before getting going to acknowledge all of you who responded with feedback in our forums. It was certainly fun to recount my PlayStation launch story with you, and a few forum posters had great stories of their own. Please keep the feedback coming, either via our forums or by dropping me an e-mail or instant message. Now we’re set to go, and there are a few things that I’m going to touch on this week, so I hope you’re strapped in. Let’s go.
The first interesting piece of news comes from Acclaim. No, I’m not talking about another chapter in the Mirra v. Acclaim lawsuit. I’m not talking about a sequel to BMX XXX, either. What I am talking about is an interesting interview that Acclaim CEO Rod Cousens gave to a gaming periodical this week, stating that Acclaim was no longer going to develop for the Gamecube after its current slate of projects was completed. Of course, upon contacting Acclaim HQ, employees spun the story differently, saying that Cousens’ words were taken out of context and the projects would now be evaluated for platform release on an individual basis—including the PS2. Now, why would Acclaim think about canceling PS2 games when the system is in more households than Gamecube and XBox combined? You’d think that, since Acclaim needs money worse than I do, they’d want to release games on a system with a better chance of sales success. Apparently this is not the case, but I suspect that Acclaim is spinning this to try and save room for future relations with Nintendo.
There’s something else that I find very interesting about this news, and it’s the seemingly ignorant reaction from Nintendo supporters across the web. I can remember when Sega decided to pull their Sega Sports line from the Gamecube, and the reaction was largely uniform:
“Sports games suck anyway, and for those who like sports, there’s still EA.”
Yeah, that’s great. Instead of admitting that it looks bad when publishers cancel an entire line of software for your system, Nintendo supporters simply dismiss the importance of such an announcement. Nice. Now, with Acclaim’s ‘announcement’, more negative comments are being heard. Never mind Acclaim’s good games, like the Burnout series and Aggressive Inline. Instead, we get treated to:
“Acclaim’s games are lousy anyway. Good riddance.”
Yeah, way to go. For a console that’s been getting trashed in the media and that was secretly the laughingstock of E3, losing high-profile projects and developers is not the way to turn things around. Still, Nintendo fans seem unfazed. After all, as long as Nintendo fans have Nintendo’s trickle of first-party games (which, apparently, can do no wrong), there’s a reason to have a console. I’m curious to see Nintendo supporters’ reactions when other publishers, such as Midway and Activision, decide to scale back and/or end GC development. Nintendo cannot pay everyone off behind the scenes to stay on board a seemingly sinking ship. There was obviously a deal struck with EA to continue supporting the Gamecube. I’m sorry, but I don’t see EA’s brass wanting to stay on board and keep selling miniscule amounts of GC games because Shigeru Miyamoto himself will be lending a hand.
As for Acclaim, something’s got to be done. Their All-Star Baseball series can no longer compete with the competition. They lost Z-Axis to EA, and now their AKA line lacks the bite it had, thanks to Dave Mirra 2 and Aggressive Inline. Their Turok series needs revamping in the worst way. The fact is that for every gem that sports the Acclaim name (Burnout 2, Aggressive Inline), there’s a multitude of stinkers (Turok, BMX XXX) that can’t be cancelled out. While it’s true that today’s casual majority likes high quantities of games to choose from, a more discerning eye needs to be turned to game development and more care needs to go into which games are greenlighted and produced. If Acclaim doesn’t make serious changes soon, Gamecube owners won’t be the only ones losing out on Acclaim’s offerings—Acclaim could go the way of 3DO, and nearly two decades of history would become just that. History.
Turning to the state of New York for a moment, I’m still in stunned disbelief that a politician has the gall to step up as a health hero and try to implement a “fat tax” on video gaming, among other “vices”. Whose idea is this? Let me introduce Mr. Felix Ortiz, a Brooklyn democrat and New York state assemblyman. This health hero wants to also do away with the marketing and sale of “junk food” in New York’s public schools. Apparently, video games are part of New York’s obesity epidemic, and what better way to sway parents from fostering the video game habit than to tax them? Hey, Mr. Ortiz—what about the kids over 18 who work for a living and pay your salary? You know that you’d be taxing adult gamers, too, right? It’s one thing if you’re just dealing with kids, but video games aren’t the “kids only” kind of thing that they used to be back in the NES era. Mr. Ortiz and the New York State government should not have the right to levy more taxes on things like junk food and video games. Once you work for a living and pay your own bills (and taxes), you shouldn’t be penalized for something that’s not detrimental to anyone else. It’s my right to play video games, eat junk food, and watch TV, and liberals like Mr. Ortiz are doing their part to whittle my rights down to near nothing. Word on the street is that this “fat tax” bill won’t pass, but stranger things have happened. I’m certainly glad that I don’t live in New York state right now, but if this bill does pass, expect to see copycat bills in multiple states.
Now, here’s this week’s “Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down” section:
Thumbs Down: Surprise—Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness finally emerged from delay hell to see life on retail shelves this past weekend. Too bad the game is getting ripped by reviewers and game players worldwide. Lara just doesn’t have it anymore, Eidos. Do the right thing and retire Lara now, before her reputation is tainted even further.
Thumbs Up: NCAA Football 2004 is in the final stages of production and initial reviews have been pretty favorable. It’s going to be tough for Tiburon to top last year’s effort, but when asked whether NCAA Football 2004 will be better than last year’s game, PSXE’s Magic 8-Ball predicted, “All signs point to yes.”
Thumbs Down: No offense, Sega, but it doesn’t matter if you rename NFL2K4 to ESPN NFL Football, This NFL Game Will Rule, Sega NFL Owns You, or anything else. Giving Madden NFL 2004 a multiple-week headstart easily seals your fate as just another victim in the video football wars. The sad part is that ESPN NFL Football was actually looking really good again this year. Pity.
Thumbs Down: Enter The Matrix has sold over 2.5 million copies. Who is buying them? Are there really that many Matrix fans out there? And it’s taking you all longer than four hours to play through the game? That’s worth $50? OK, if you say so…
Thumbs Up: I’m hearing good things about Ape Escape 2. Despite one particularly negative magazine review, the others have been mostly positive. It’s a shame that it took so long for this game to make an appearance outside of Japan, and I’m looking forward to netting more monkeys (complete with pants) next week.
That’s it for this week. As always, if you have questions that you want answered right here in this column, go on and send ‘em in. I dare you. I’ll also take ideas for topics to be covered and always accept hate mail. See you again.
6/24/2003 Peter Skerritt